Ticks and Lyme Disease

Ticks are one of the toughest parasites to prevent and to kill. They are hardy little buggers, not to mention, down right gross.  Ticks carry a wide variety of diseases that can be passed onto our pets as these pests take their blood meals. One of the most common diseases ticks here in Wisconsin pass onto our dogs is Lyme disease.  Thankfully, we don’t worry about Lyme disease in cats.

Tick activity peaks during the month of October as they’ve been happily multiplying and hanging out all summer and as the seasons change, they start to look for the warmth of our pets’ bodies.  So, we actually see more ticks on our pets in October than any other month (although springtime is a close second).  Don’t forget to use your tick preventative-especially in October! November and December are important as well depending on how cold it is each year. Our rule of thumb is as follows: if we are consistently under 40 degrees for three weeks or longer, you can give your pet a break from the tick preventative products.  Usually by January, we can take a break for a couple of months. Side note: Don’t forget to give your heartworm prevention all year round though! No breaks on that one!

Ticks carry all sorts of diseases, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichia, Anaplasmosis, Babesia and Bartonella. Let’s  focus on just on Lyme disease, as that is the most common tick borne illness here in Wisconsin.  Twenty years ago, it was primarily seen in northern Wisconsin, but is now seen here in southern Wisconsin and is quite prevalent in Walworth County.

Lyme disease is transmitted via the deer tick.  Some studies have suggested it takes quite a long time for the tick to actually transmit Lyme disease into the dog, so frequently checking your dog for ticks and removing them promptly is a great way to protect your dog from Lyme disease.

Lyme disease symptoms include stiffness, lameness (sometimes it shifts from leg to leg), swollen joints, loss of appetite, fever, and fatigue. Your dog may not show signs of the disease until several months after infected. It can also take some time from exposure until your dog tests positive for Lyme disease. If your dog has had a tick attach, we recommend waiting at least three weeks until you have them tested for Lyme disease.  If your dog is showing signs of illness, have them tested immediately.

A study at Cornell University showed that 94 percent of dogs exposed to Lyme disease will never develop symptoms but if your pet does develop symptoms, treatment with appropriate antibiotics is usually successful (unless there are other underlying disease/s that your pet is already suffering from – i.e. geriatric, kidney, heart or liver dysfunction).

My pet has been vaccinated for Lyme disease so they are protected, correct?  Well, no, not necessarily. While we hope this is true, the fact is that the Lyme vaccine (compared to other types of vaccines) is not the world’s best vaccine.  We have certainly seen animals be vaccinated for Lyme disease and still get Lyme disease.  The best way to protect your pet is to prevent the tick exposure in the first place. In addition, to preventing Lyme disease, you also protect your pet from all the other nasty diseases that ticks transmit.

Creature Comforts recommends Nexgard as a monthly preventative against fleas and ticks.  For more information about this particular preventative, please visit nexgardfordogs.com or call our office at 262-930-6024 with any questions.  Take advantage of these promotional offers on flea, tick, and heartworm preventatives through the end of this year:

• Buy six doses of Nexgard and get one dose FREE

• Buy 12 doses of Heartgard and get a $12 rebate

• Buy 12 doses of Nexgard and 12 doses of Heartgard and get a $50 rebate plus two FREE doses of Nexgard

Call us today for more information!